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Summer Reading List 1999

Compiled by:
Ray Suarez,
Host, Talk of the Nation
Carolyn Alessio, Deputy Literary Editor, Chicago Tribune
Carla Cohen, Co-Owner, Politics and Prose Bookstore
Walter Kirn, Book Reviewer, New York Magazine

Stephen Ambrose, Citizen Soldiers: The U.S. Army from the Normandy Beaches to the Bulge to the Surrender of Germany, June 7, 1994 to May 7, 1945 (Touchstone Books, 1998).

Rick Atkinson, The Long Gray Line (Pocket Books, 1991). "He's got a marvelous eye for detail and for plot." C.C.

Melissa Bank, The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing (Viking Press, 1999). "It's about a young woman working at a publishing house with a kind of sarcastic eye on the world...It really was kind of touching." C.A.

Nevada Barr, A Superior Death (Avon, 1995). "The insights into all aspects of her character's life are interesting to both male and female readers." Jim from Lansing, Michigan.

K.K. Beck, We Interrupt This Broadcast (Mysterious Press, 1997). "It's infectious, an easy read that I don't want to put down." Glenn from Seattle, Washington.

Mark Bowden, Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War (Atlantic Monthly Press, 1999). "A marvelous book about our abortive effort in Somalia." C.C.

Bill Bryson, The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America (Harper Collins, 1990). "He's a bit of a sarcastic travel writer who goes through back roads he used to take on vacations." C.A.

Octavia Butler, Parable of the Talents (Seven Stories Press, 1998). "If you're reading it you probably won't want to be on a beach in California, because it's a little apocalyptic." C.A.

Esme Raji Codell, Educating Esme: Diary of a Teacher's First Year (Algonquin Books, 1999). "One of the funniest books I've ever read." Jim in Chicago, Illinois.

Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White (Bantam Classics, 1985). "The writing's fantastic and the stories are gripping." C.C.

Mary Clyde, Survival Rates: Stories (University of Georgia Press, 1999).

Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Del Rey, 1996). "His are novels of psychological suspense as much as science-fiction." W.K.

Mark Doty, Sweet Machines: Poems (Harper Collins, 1998).

Nathan Englander, For the Relief of Unbearable Urges (Knopf, 1999). "It's a book about ...very Orthodox Jews in New York. And he writes about them unsparingly." C.C.

Paul Feldman, Jack the Ripper: The Final Chapter (Virginia Publishers, 1999). "For people who love true crime and have always been interested in the Jack the Ripper story, this is a great book." Helen from Reno, Nevada.

Penelope Fitzgerald, Human Voices (Mariner Books, 1999). "Whimsical, but at the same time shows the day to day life of the war" C.A.

Paula Fox, Desperate Characters (W.W. Norton & Company, 1999). "A work of very stark and very brilliant realism that follows three days in the life of a woman after she's bit by a rabid bat... which occasions her reflection on her marriage and everything else." W.K.

Steven Gaines, Philistines at the Hedgerow: Passion and Property in the Hamptons (Little Brown & Company, 1999). "About the big-money people and their chicanery in East Hampton." Yvonne in Bellevue, Washington.

Denise Giardina, Saints and Villains: A Novel (Fawcett Books, 1999). "A really lovely book, beautifully written, and also tells you a lot about theology, about splits in the national churches of Germany." R.S.

Louise Gluck, Vita Nova (Ecco Press, 1999).

Jamie Harrison, An Unfortunate Prairie Occurrence (St. Martins Press, 1999). "His books really evoke the isolation and eccentricity of the West in a way that not even most 'literary' novels do." W.K.

Robert Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land (Ace Books, 1995).

Ward Just, A Dangerous Friend (Houghton Mifflin Co., 1999) "A very Graham Green-esque book about how America got pulled into the war and what mistakes America extraordinary tour de force" C.C.

Jon Katz, Running to the Mountain: A Journey of Faith and Change (Villard Books, 1999). "This is a book for those approaching or experiencing the coming of age that midlife brings with it." Faye from Wichita Falls, Texas.

Jon Krakauer, Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster (Anchor Books, 1998).

Mike Males, Framing Youth: Ten Myths About the Next Generation (Common Courage Press, 1999). "This book really has a lot of interesting facts about teen-agers and uncovers a lot of myths that we're hearing." Bill from Sunnyvale, California.

Charles McCarry, ed. From the Field: The Best of National Geographic (National Geographic Society, 1998).

Horace McCoy, ed. Crime Novels: American Noir of the 1930s and 40s (Library of America, 1997) "I can't recommend them highly enough." W.K.

Lorrie Moore, Birds of America (Knopf, 1998). "It makes me almost tremble when I think of how good it is." C.C.

Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values (Bantam Books, 1984).

Diana Preston, A First Rate Tragedy: Robert Falcon Scott and the Race to the South Pole (Houghton Mifflin Co, 1998). "A very exciting and edge-of-your-seat adventure." Vida in San Mateo, California.

Tom Pocock, Horatio Nelson (Trafalgar Square, 1995). "An eminently readable story of Admiral Nelson, which is a pretty amazing life." R.S.

Annie Proulx, Close Range: The Wyoming Stories (Schuster, 1999). "I was terribly surprised at how good it was and how right it was and how true it was. It's just come out, and I can't recommend it highly enough." W.K.

Witold Rybczynski, A Clearing in the Distance: Fredrick Law Olmstead and America in the Nineteenth Century (Scribner, 1999). "Rybczynski is someone who writes about...nutty things like design and architecture as well as, or better than, just about anyone who's living and writing today." R.S.

Cynthia Saltzman, Portrait of Dr. Gachet: The Story of a Van Gogh Masterpiece, Money, Politics, Collectors, Greed and Loss (Penguin, 1999). "It's basically the story of a portrait and the life it comes into...There are a lot of behind-the-scenes skullduggery and things like that." C.A.

Bob Shacochis, The Immaculate Invasion (Viking Press, 1999). "It really gets into sort of chaos and heartbreak and challenge of going into another place with your military force and trying to reform to their society." W.K.

Alvah Simon, North to the Night: A Year in the Arctic Ice (McGraw-Hill, 1998). "It describes his encounters with polar bears and being in total darkness for the entire winter season...It is very exciting." Vida from San Mateo, California.

David Stevenson and Barbara Schneider, The Ambitious Generation: America's Teenagers, Motivated but Directionless (Yale University Press, 1999). "Its conclusion is really the opposite of everything we've been hearing, that this generation now is the most ambitious...that their problem is that the society doesn't really have room to fulfill a lot of their professional ambitions." W.K.

Ron Suskind, A Hope in the Unseen: An American Odyssey from the Inner City to the Ivy League (Broadway Books, 1998). "Wonderful insight and new understanding across the race lines." John from Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Sheri Tepper, Singer from the Sea (Avon, 1999). "Her ideas, characterizations, and plot are always inventive and intriguing." John from Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Bailey White, Quite a Year for Plums: A Novel (Knopf, 1998). "You just want to go and live where Bailey lives to meet these characters." John from Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Books for Children and Young Adults:
James Oliver Curwood, Three Great Wilderness Stories: Baree, Kazan, the Bear (Newmarket Press, 1997).

Caroline Knapp, Pack of Two: The Intricate Bond Between People and Dogs (Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishers, 1998).

Jeffrey Moussaieff Mason, When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals (Delta, 1996).

Farley Mowatt, Never Cry Wolf (Bantam Books, 1983). "A beautiful book." C.C.

What was recommended last year? Check out the 1998 list as well.

And add your comments on the reading list, as well as your suggestions of additional titles to our Summer Reading Lists discussion.

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